All Research

Joy: History vs. Hollywood

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro

Jennifer Lawrence
Born: August 15, 1990
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Joy Mangano
Born: February 15, 1956
Birthplace: East Meadow, New York, USA
Bradley Cooper
Born: January 5, 1975
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Joseph Segel
Born: 1931
Birthplace: USA

Cooper's character is likely a composite of Segel and other QVC executives
Édgar Ramírez
Born: March 25, 1977
San Cristóbal, Táchira, Venezuela
Tony Miranne
Born: October 15, 1954
Birthplace: New York, USA
Virginia Madsen
Born: September 11, 1961
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Terry "Toots" Mangano

Madsen's character was not directly based on Toots.
Aundrea Gadsby & Gia Gadsby (twin actors)
Christie Miranne
Born: May 19
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Tomas Elizondo & Zeke Elizondo (twin actors)
Bobby Miranne
Born: July 30
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Melissa Rivers
Born: January 20, 1968
New York City, New York, USA
Joan Rivers
Born: June 8, 1933
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Death: September 4, 2014, East Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (surgery complications)
For me personally, there was no path. A mom and a woman way back then, to sit at a coffee table and say, 'Yeah, I’m an inventor?' It was like, 'Okay. She needs to go to therapy.' -Joy Mangano, Vogue, December 2015

Questioning the Story:

What invention did the real Joy Mangano create?

Though it's never mentioned by name in the movie (it is quickly shown on a TV screen graphic during the mop's initial unsuccessful QVC appearance), the real Joy Mangano invented the self-wringing Miracle Mop, which was her first success. The Joy true story reveals that she possesses more than 100 patents and trademarks for her inventions, which also include the velvet-covered Huggable Hangers (designed to prevent clothes from slipping onto the floor) and My Little Steamer (a handheld device for smoothing out wrinkles). She is the founder and president of Ingenious Designs, LLC, and as of 2010, her inventions were bringing in roughly $150 million in annual sales via HSN.

The real Joy Mangano created the first prototype for her Miracle Mop in 1990. Jennifer Lawrence (pictured) portrays Joy in the David O. Russell movie.

How much of Joy is based on a true story?

During his initial phone conversations with the real Joy Mangano, Director David O. Russell was up front and told her that the film was "not going to be a biopic." Instead, he explained to her that it was going to be "half-fiction." Mangano gave her approval and is credited as an executive producer, though her last name is never used in the movie. O. Russell didn't meet with her in person until the very end. "I wasn't in a hurry because I wanted to create what I wanted to create," he explained ( Actress Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays Mangano in the movie, told The Late Show host Stephen Colbert that she didn't want the "burden" of having to portray a real person. However, she stated that "the craziest stuff in the story is true."

How old was Joy Mangano when she invented the Miracle Mop?

In researching the Joy true story, we learned that Mangano was 34 when she developed the prototype for the Miracle Mop in 1990, the same year actress Jennifer Lawrence was born.

Was the Miracle Mop really a flop when it was first pitched on QVC?

Yes, but like in the movie, Joy appearing on the network to pitch it herself is what saved the day. She made her first appearance in 1992 and sold a whopping 18,000 units in less than 30 minutes. In under a decade, the mops were raking in $10 million a year in sales. During that time, she added more inventions to the lineup, including Forever Fragrant air freshener products, Huggable Hangers, and Performance Platforms shoes.

Inventor Joy Mangano in a 1996 Miracle Mop infomercial.

Is Joy's mom in the movie based on the real Joy Mangano's mother?

No, at least not directly. Virginia Madsen's offbeat character, Terry, was not inspired by the mother of the real Joy Mangano. She is instead a composite of several people in Mangano's life.

Is Diane Ladd's character, Mimi, based on the real Joy's grandmother?

Not directly, but Mimi is said to capture her spirit. "Some of us are fortunate enough to have somebody that believes in us, even before we're able to believe in ourselves," says Mangano. "For me personally, it was my grandmother Mimi, who saw something special in me from when I was a young girl, and inspired me."

Diane Ladd portrays Joy's grandmother Mimi in the movie.

Did Joy really invent a fluorescent flea collar as a teenager?

Yes. While working at an animal hospital as a teenager, Joy designed a reflective collar so that cars could see the animals at night. A year later, the company Hartz Mountain put a similar product on the market.

Where did the real Joy Mangano grow up?

Like in the Joy movie, the real Mangano was born in New York and grew up in the town of Huntington on Long Island. Today, the multimillionaire mogul lives in a Long Island mansion named Swan Manor. Despite the movie being set on Long Island, it was actually filmed in Boston, Massachusetts and other nearby Massachusetts towns (Wilmington, North Reading, Winchester, Haverhill).

The real Joy Mangano as a child (left) and actress Isabella Crovetti-Cramp (right) as young Joy in the movie.

Did Joy's dad really run an auto body shop?

Yes. The real Joy Mangano's father owned an auto body shop in the Deer Park community in Babylon, New York. He also ran a business that rented out airport shuttles and school buses. The real Joy Mangano began inventing at an early age, and like in the movie, she eventually used a small area of her father's shop to give birth to the Miracle Mop.

Did Joy Mangano really forgo college to help her parents through their divorce?

No. The real Mangano graduated with a degree in business administration from Pace University in 1978. After college, however, she did work in the reservations department of an airline, and prior to that, she worked as a waitress.

Is Joy's half-sister Peggy based on a real person?

No. Joy's half-sister Peggy is entirely fictional and was created by writer/director David O. Russell.

Joy's half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Röhm) is entirely fictional.

Is Bradley Cooper's character based on a real person?

Yes. Bradley Cooper's character, QVC executive Neil Walker, is likely an amalgamation of QVC founder Joseph Segel and various other executives at the company.

Was Joy Mangano really divorced with two children?

In exploring the Joy true story, we discovered that at the time she invented the Miracle Mop, the real Joy Mangano was actually divorced and raising three children (not two), Robert, Jacqueline, and Christie Miranne.

The real Joy Mangano with her three children, Bobby, Jacqueline and Christie.

Did Joy Mangano really struggle to pay the bills after her divorce?

Yes. Following her divorce from Tony Miranne in 1989, Joy Mangano lived with her three children in a two-bedroom ranch house in Smithtown, Long Island. As she struggled to make ends meet, she worked as a waitress and an airline-reservations manager. It was around this time that she came up with the idea for the Miracle Mop.

Was Joy's ex-husband a Venezuelan singer?

No. Joy's ex-husband, Tony Miranne (portrayed by Édgar Ramírez), was a fellow business student and former classmate at Pace University, not a Venezuelan singer. -Vogue

Unlike Édgar Ramírez's character (pictured) in the Joy movie, the real Tony Miranne was not a Venezuelan singer.

Did Joy's best friend call in during her first live QVC appearance?

Yes. In the Joy movie, her best friend is Jackie (the name of Mangano's youngest daughter, who is not represented in the movie). In real life, her best friend's name is Ronnie, and she did call in to QVC during Mangano's first live appearance.

Did she really sell more than 18,000 mops during her initial hour-long appearance on QVC?

Yes. As shown in the Joy movie, Mangano did sell over 18,000 mops during her first hour-long appearance on QVC, proving that she could connect with an audience.

Like in the movie, the real Joy Mangano (right) sold more than 18,000 Miracle Mops during her first hour-long QVC appearance. Actress Jennifer Lawrence as Joy in the movie (left).

Is Joy Mangano on good terms with her ex-husband?

Yes. Joy's ex-husband, Tony Miranne, remains one of her best friends. He is even an executive vice president at Ingenious Designs, Joy's company. She says that "he was a great salesman" and that his position helps him to stay in close touch with their children, two of whom have active roles in the company. The other, Jackie Miranne, is a model and style correspondent for HSN and Us Weekly. -Vogue

Did she really leave QVC for rival HSN?

Yes. Like at the end of the movie, Joy Mangano left QVC for HSN (formerly the Home Shopping Network) when HSN bought her company, Ingenious Designs LLC, in 1999. As implied in the movie, Joy has achieved monumental success at HSN, with hourly sales regularly exceeding $1 million. Her invention, Huggable Hangers, became the best-selling product in HSN history.

Joy Mangano Infomercial & "Joy" Movie Trailers

Further explore the Joy true story by watching a 1996 Miracle Mop infomercial featuring inventor Joy Mangano. Also view the Joy movie trailers.

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